Home is where the heart is
In 1959 the view from Richard (Dick) Parry’s back door was directly across to the Oakey sale yards. Dick recalls: “Some people used to complain about the noise from the animals, but it never bothered me.”
They were sounds he was familiar with having grown up on a 160-acre farm in Goombungee, a small town in the Darling Downs region, 30km from Oakey.
As the eldest son of five children, when he wasn’t attending school, Dick was working on the farm milking cows; ploughing the land for corn and oats; and preparing the livestock for sale. He’s seen a lot of change in the 62 years he’s been living in the community.
“I was at the abattoir for 40 years. I knew all the truck drivers back then, but it’s different now – it’s all automated and belts. I don’t know how they keep up!”
Today, Dick enjoys the same sunny spot at the back door of the home he bought for 800 pounds at the age of 25. His home holds a lifetime of memories – a home he shared with his wife and four children – and he’s determined to remain living there.
“Oakey is home. My house is what I know. It’s familiar and comfortable,” he says.
The deterioration of Dick’s health, and his decreasing ability to look after himself, prompted his daughter, Tania, to seek in-home support for her father.
“He has an increasing range of complex health needs, and he was getting less stable on his feet. We contacted Carinity Home Care, based on a recommendation from a carer who has been supporting our son,” says Tania.
That recommendation has paid dividends for Dick and Tania, and they are lavish in their praise of Steph Watson, the Carinity Home Care Lifestyle Coordinator for Darling Downs who has assisted Dick for nearly four years.
“Nothing is too much trouble for Steph. She is understanding in any situation, no matter how hard. When the circumstances change, she just rolls with it. The last time Dad was in hospital, Steph sorted everything for him to move into a residential aged care community,” Tania says.
“But he was so adamant about going home. Steph ensured everything was prepared for his return including carers staying with him overnight. It allowed me to have a break.
“The experience and understanding from Steph, and knowing dad has all the support he needs, is comforting. It’s also good knowing someone is going in everyday to see dad which takes some pressure off me.”
Dick also takes comfort in his carers’ visits. “It’s company. I don’t have a lot of friends – they’re all gone. Without my carers, I’d be lost,” says Dick.
“I see them every day and get on well with them all. They’re prepared to do what I want. I like everything left on the table, and they make sure it is.”
Joy Dearling is one of Dick’s carers and shares a lot in common with him. She’s a local of Oakey for over 45 years and also had a career at the abattoir before joining Carinity. Her uncle even served with Dick in the Navy.
The catalyst for Joy’s career change to become a carer was watching her mum’s confidence slip away with the onset of dementia. “I spent a lot of time talking and laughing with Mum, bringing joy to her life, building her confidence,” shares Joy.
“As a carer I really focus on improving the quality of life of my clients – helping them do something they can’t normally do, something to take their mind off their situation.
“I love listening to Dick’s stories about his time in the Navy. As he’s limited to moving about inside his home, I enjoy helping him get out on his scooter.”
The joy that riding his electric scooter brings to Dick can be summed up, grinning ear-to-ear: “I can get around – it makes me feel like I still have a vehicle, I still have wheels that go on to the road!”
Read more stories from Belong: Winter 2022 | Edition 26